2008.01.03 The Factoid File

Written by David Green.


The new year has barely started, but it’s already time for more stuff, fresh from the land of useless information....

The average amount of loose change contained in automobiles going through the auto crusher at the end of their useful life? $1.65, according to one of the country’s biggest auto recyclers. Better check under the seats the next time you trade one in.

In Italy, Parmesan cheese is the item stolen in one out of ten shop-liftings. Insert your own joke here.

The U.S. government owns about 85 percent of the state of Nevada. Add in Las Vegas, Reno and Carson City and there’s not much left over for anyone else.

Not too many of the old patent medicines survived passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, but Dr. Mile’s Compound Extract of Tomato can still be found today...only now we call it ketchup.

A Chinese anti-satellite weapons test early in 2007 added about 25 percent to the total of man-made space debris orbiting Earth. There are now roughly 12,000 traceable objects baseball size or bigger, plus more than 100,000 lesser-sized pieces. The smaller pieces are large enough to damage a spacecraft, but not big enough to track from Earth. Makes you want to be an astronaut, doesn’t it? The oldest man-made object in space is the old Vanguard I satellite, sent up by the U.S. in 1958. Does it receive mailings from the AARP, too?

Over 16 million gallons of motor oil leak from the nation’s vehicles each year. My old Chevy Caprice was responsible for a few gallons a year all by itself.

What is Mickey Dolenz, most famous for being drummer for The Monkees, up to these days? Amazingly, he’s the commercial voice of Snuggle, the fabric softener bear. On second thought, that’s actually quite appropriate, having a washed-up rock star helping to sell fabric softener.

Over three million people have their names legally changed each year. I wonder what the most popular new name is?

McDonald’s sells about 17 Big Macs every second in the United States alone. Not all of them to the person in front of you in line, even though it may seem like it.

Tim Brady, an employee of an English rental car company, borrowed a Porsche from inventory and was clocked driving it at 172 mph, the highest speed ever recorded on police radar. That feat also made him an ex-employee and cost him 10 weeks of jail time.

Sales of blank audio cassettes, which reached a peak of 442 million in 1990, have fallen steadily since to a mere 700,000 last year. Biggest users now are police and court stenographers. I still have some from before 1990 I’ve never used.

The late Merv Griffin, who developed the television show “Jeopardy,” also wrote the music played while contestants write their answers in the final round. His royalties from that 30 seconds of time filler reportedly earned him $70 million in royalties. Next time a stupid melody comes to you, better write it down.

Abraham Lincoln had never met Hannibal Hamlin, vice president during his first term, until well after their election in 1860. They corresponded by letter after Hamlin was given the second spot on the ticket, but their paths had never crossed prior to the election, even though Hamlin was a senator during Lincoln’s two-year term in Congress in the 1850s.

A gentleman named Bill Bunyan accomplished the unusual feat of eating a hamburger in every county of his home state of Kansas. But did he have fries with them?

Pound for pound, the ant population of the world outweighs the human population. And I’ve never even seen an obese ant.

The Dunlop Tire company has for the past few years offered a free set of tires to anyone willing to get the brand’s logo tattooed on their body. Over the first three years of the program, the company has paid off to 98 people.

Famous people of the past with tattoos include both Thomas Edison and Josef Stalin. I’m not sure any other similarities between those two exist.

Of all homes in the United States valued at over $1 million dollars, a whopping 41 percent are located in just one state—California. What, you were expecting me to say North Dakota?

  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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